Archive for the music Category

Phil Collins Retires; World Rejoices

Posted in misc.blurbs, music with tags , , on Wednesday, 2011 by Todd.Levinson.Frank

Following the “thank god!” public reaction to his retirement from music, Phil Collins released a statement clarifying the reason he’s quitting is to “be a full-time father on a daily basis” and NOT because of “dodgy reviews” or not feeling loved.

Funny, all of us manage to hold down full-time real jobs and still raise our kids on a daily basis. Music is not something that you quit. If you want to quit “the music business,” fine, just go. Why the announcement? Plenty of bands go years between albums or find themselves on unannounced, indefinite hiatus.

Nothing reeks of “desperate for attention” like first unnecessarily announcing retirement and then releasing another statement about it that essentially screams "I’M STILL LOVED! I’M STILL RELEVANT!!"

I’m not a mathematician, but I’m pretty sure if you’ve sold 100 million records and don’t have the trappings of having to do actual work for a living you could probably manage to juggle the demands of fatherhood without “retiring from music.” But good riddance.

The Best Albums of 2010

Posted in music with tags , , , , , on Thursday, 2010 by Todd.Levinson.Frank

Ah yes, another no-name blogger weighing in on the best albums of the year. I know: you care. My Top Ten Albums of 2010 list contains 27 titles and includes live albums. It doesn’t contain a couple albums I probably loved and somehow forgot. Feel free to post your Top 10 of 2010 in the comments below.

THE BEST
The Roots – How I Got Over

Black Keys – Brothers

White Stripes – Under Great Northern Lights (live)

THE REST
Mavis Staples – You Are Not Alone

Deer Tick – The Black Dirt Sessions

John Mellencamp – No Better Than This

Eminem – Recovery

Josh Ritter – So Runs the World Away

Nas & Damian Marley – Distant Relatives

Tom Petty – Mojo

Spoon – Transference

The Roots & John Legend – Wake Up

Robert Plant – Band of Joy

Peter Wolf – Midnight Souvenirs

Neil Young – Le Noise

Frightened Rabbit – Winter of Mixed Drinks

Avett Brothers – Live Vol. 3 (live)

Jakob Dylan – Women and Country

Ryan Bingham – Junky Star

Dead Weather – Sea of Cowards

Ray Lamontagne – God Willing and the Creek Don’t Rise

Big Boi – Sir Luscious Leftfoot

Drive-By Truckers – The Big To-Do

Eels – End Times

Black Crowes – Croweology

Derek Trucks Band – Roadsongs (live)

Justin Townes Earle – Harlem River Blues

MOONTOWER: free download of new song

Posted in music with tags , , , , on Thursday, 2010 by Todd.Levinson.Frank

So my longtime musical partner in crime Steve and I have a new little rock’n’roll project going called Moontower. After spending a day at my house jamming on some preliminary riffs, we holed up in the basement of Vanishing Point Studios in Alexandria, VA, to mold one of those jams into a song. Our friend Rob joined us to throw down the lead vocals, and our other friend Pam added some sweet harmonies to the outro.

The result is “Just Want To Make It Known.” Listen and/or download the song for free by clicking this sentence.

Feel free to share this on facebook, twitter, and anywhere else you share webthings, and pass this link along to anyone you know who likes to rock and/or roll.

Party at the Moontower….

The Circle Six Archives

Posted in music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on Wednesday, 2010 by Todd.Levinson.Frank

Once upon a time in another life that was part of this one, I played drums in a band called The Circle Six. It was the best of the worst times and we made less money than we spent. From 1992 to 2001, the music evolved and migrated and meandered and always meant the most to us during each moment it was made.

We were born and raised in the eclectic Morgantown music scene along side Rasta Rafiki, Joint Chiefs, Karma to Burn, the Recipe, and countless other bands that may or may not have thought we were assholes. In addition to playing most of our home games at the legendary Nyabinghi Dance Hall at 123 Pleasant St, we also graced the stages at CBGB’s, 930 Club, and many holes in walls inbetween. Over the years we shared the bill with New Riders of the Purple Sage, Rusted Root, Ras Fairmont, The Roots, G.Love & Special Sauce, Verve Pipe, 3LG, Linkin Park, Sampson, Thrift Unit, the Crownsayers, Papa Roach, Fried Moose, 2 Skinny J’s, and some other bands that didn’t want to play before us and a few that regretting going on after us.

We slept on a lot of couches and even more floors. We went through two different vans and laughed to the point of hyperventilation about stuff that wouldn’t seem that funny if I tried to explain it to you now.

Along the way we made several recordings of varying styles and quality. Now you can wander through all of it or sample just some of it. Download any or all of it for free or just listen to it online by clicking on this sentence.

And we’re not reuniting unless it’s for the opening slot on the Led Zeppelin Reunion Tour, so don’t ask.

Interview With Neal Casal

Posted in books, essays, music, photos with tags , , , , , , , , , on Wednesday, 2010 by Todd.Levinson.Frank

In 2010, singer/songwriter Neal Casal released his photo book chronicling his time with Ryan Adams and the Cardinals, A View of Other Windows. We were fortunate enough to catch up with Neal recently for an intimate conversation about music, photography, and the Cardinals.

Todd Levinson Frank: You’ve obviously been documenting the Cardinals for a while, when did you think it could and would make a decent book? If the Cardinals hadn’t “ended” in 2009, would this book have still come out this soon, or did the timing work out that this book would put a nice bow on the Cardinals era?

Neal Casal: I didn’t know these photos would make a decent book until the book was about 90% finished. I doubted the quality of the work until very late in the game. Once it was finished though, I knew it was up to standards and that we had achieved something special.

I didn’t start taking the photos with the intention of making a book, I was just doing it because I loved to take photos of my band mates. The idea of the photos being a book came much later.

TLF: Both a guitar and a camera are instruments of art, tools of trades, and are dependent on their design and the technology utilized to bring them to life. But a song or a jam can be made up out of thin air, whereas a picture has to be taken of something. So playing music is creating (or recreating) something while photography is capturing and freezing something. What are some similarities and differences between how you approach the guitar and how you approach the camera?

NC: Music and photos are the exact same thing for me. A photo has to be taken “of” something, and a song has to be “about” something. A photo is a song and a song is a photo. They both come out of thin air, and they are both about capturing and freezing something.

There’s a dual action that exists in both of these mediums, and in all things when they’re operating at their best. If you look at the photographs I take, and the music that I make, you’ll see and hear very similar qualities in both. My individual aesthetic is applied to whatever instruments I’m utilizing at the time.

TLF: Musically, the Cardinals have been known to start at a jumping-off point, say, a song like “Easy Plateau,” and then just ride it where ever the jam goes. Have you ever (knowingly or accidentally) had a similar experience with photography? Like you set out to photograph a sunset and ended up finding a bunch of cool birds and bridges instead? Or maybe just head out for the day with your camera with no plan and see what you end up with?

NC: My photographic life is nothing but one jumping point after another, that’s all there is for me. I never plan photos or set anything up, so I just head out for the day and follow where the light leads me. Some days it’s great, other days not at all. You have to be prepared to roll with the ups and downs.

And if I am called to do a specific thing, it always ends up being something different than was originally planned. That’s what keeps it interesting for me.

TLF: Was this book already completely finished and “in the can” by the time bassist Chris Feinstein passed away, or was it a conscious decision to just celebrate the Cardinals and let him live on through the images and music as opposed to turning it into some sort of memorial?

NC: The book was finished and printed before Chris passed away, I want everyone to know this. If there was a chance to say something about his passing in the book, or to have made a dedication, or some appropriate gesture, we certainly would have. There are no words that can ever do justice to the way we all feel about this, but we certainly would have tried, or, at the absolute least, acknowledged it in the book.

TLF: I’m sure there were plenty of albums and bands that inspired you to want to play music. Are there any photographers that made you want to pick up a camera?

NC: The best thing about photography for me is that, unlike music, I started doing it with no influences at all. It was a totally free flowing thing and I wasn’t trying to emulate anyone. I had no idea who anyone was, I had no aspirations other than to just enjoy the incredibly liberating feeling it gave me. Well, I probably had some influences because of how much photography influences all of us, but it was a subconscious thing.

I didn’t study photography, I had no knowledge of it, I started doing it by accident. After I got better at it, I began to discover photographers, and now I collect books and try to see as much photography as I can. But in the beginning, I was truly working in a blissful little void of my own making.

TLF: Can you compare holding the final version of this book, all printed and ready, with holding your first real CD you recorded, complete with cover art as a finished product?

NC: There’s nothing like holding your first record in your hands for the first time, it’s such an exciting feeling that’s never forgotten. But honestly, this book gives me an even better than my first record did.

I guess it’s because photography was so much more of a long shot than music was for me. It’s the high point of my creative life so far.

TLF: A couple guys who I assume are heroes of yours, Bob Dylan and Jerry Garcia, both dabbled with painting. Ryan Adams recently had a well-received art exhibit of his paintings in NYC. What do you think about the connection between music and the visual arts, or is it just natural that the creative mind of a musician is drawn to other artistic avenues?

NC: It kind of goes back to the thing we talked about before, which is that, in a way, all art is all the same. Guitars, cameras, and paintbrushes, are very similar instruments when you get right down to it. They’re just conduits to bring out your feelings and your point of view about the world and your life. This is an oversimplified statement, but I don’t like to over think these things. Just grab an instrument of your choice, dig in, and see what you can extract out of yourself.

TLF: In 2007, the Cardinals played a bunch of acoustic shows as Ryan recovered from an injury and couldn’t play guitar, he only sang. How did that challenge you guys to re-imagine the music and the live show? And is there a photographic analogy? Would it be like switching to a different camera, or lens? Or shooting in challenging light or capturing something in motion?

NC: Those “Blue Cave” shows in 2007 were great because it forced us to focus on details that had been passed over previously. It gave Ryan a chance to really concentrate on his singing, which was always great, but leaped to an entirely different level at that point. It forced the rest of us to really learn those songs, and come up with airtight arrangements that would translate in any live situation. It forced me to step forward on guitar, and for all of us to work on our harmony singing, and tighten down our playing. It was a very strong, hard working, era for us, and we made a huge progression as a band in a short time. In photographic terms, it’s like switching to a macro lens so that you can photograph the tiniest veins on a leaf.

TLF: Other reviews and interviews have mentioned that your inside access as a band member made this much more interesting than simply a book of tour photos captured by outside photographers. When did you start to feel like you were on to a real photo-journal that would capture a band and its moment in time, and not just taking a bunch of personal pictures of what you were doing (which happened to be touring with a band)?

NC: I’d been approaching my life as a real photo journal/journey long before I joined the Cardinals. I photograph almost every day of my life, so when I joined the band, I just continued doing what

I was already doing. It’s just one continuous stream for me. I don’t think of my photos as personal. I take them quite seriously and think of it more as documentary work. Even if no one but me ever sees them, that’s how I’m thinking of it.

TLF: Could you imagine touring with a band and capturing them just as an outside hired photographer? If you could go back in time and chronicle any tour as a photographer, what band/year would it be?

NC: I’d love to hang around with a band and photograph them as an outside guy. I think I could be really good at it. Well, I say that now anyway. Maybe I wouldn’t like it once I started doing it, but I’d love to give it a try anyway.

If I could go back in time, I’d like to be in the deep south, particularly Mississippi, in the early part of the 20th century, photographing the early blues music that was created there.

TLF: One thing captured in the book is some of the time you guys spent recording with Willie Nelson. what was that like?

NC: Working with Willie was an honor of course. Pool was played, whiskey was drank, joints were smoked, shit was shot.

Oh yeah, we recorded some music too. One of the highlights for me was sitting at the piano and teaching him to sing “Songbird.” He would ask me “Ok, how do you phrase this next line?” I’m thinking to myself “Willie Nelson is asking ME about vocal phrasing. Wow, is this really happening?”

TLF: Did you ever feel a bit more conscious when photographing Willie and Ryan? Like “okay, I’ve GOT to get some good pictures of them together, but still have it be natural and casual”?

NC: I’m always thinking that I’ve GOT to get some good photographs no matter who or what I’m shooting. There’s no difference between Willie Nelson and a leaf on a tree as far as that goes.

TLF: What are some of your favorite rock photos? There was always something about that one of Jimi Hendrix’s shadow on his amplifier that I thought was great. Are there any photos (or album covers) that you love or think of as the perfect link between music and photography?

NC: For me, Jim Marshall is the king of all music photography. His photo of early Dylan kicking the tire springs to mind immediately.

TLF: Can you envision doing another photo book? Say, just on scenery, or a random collection of photos?

NC: Music photos comprise only a fraction of my work. I have thousands of photos of other things and dream of one day creating a book out of them. It’s just a dream, but it feels good to dream it once in awhile.

TLF: The title A View of Other Windows comes from the Cardinals song “Evergreen.” How did you come to use that and what does it mean to you in terms of this book? Or was it simply an easy Cards-related title with “View” in it? What others did you consider? Any others from Cardinals song lyrics or titles?

NC: I searched around through Ryan’s deep well of great lyrics and came up with that title. It was the first name I came up with and much to my surprise, the publishing company accepted it immediately. It just works y’know?

I love the title because it suggests being able to see many different layers, or angles, of a particular thing. There’s mystery and depth there, and it’s kinda thought provoking in a way. It takes a minute to really think through all of the different things the title could mean. I like that.

TLF: It seems a lot of critics and fans see this book as a great snapshot (pardon the pun) of the Cardinals as a band. It provides both closure and tangible evidence of the memories. Do you know if there might be a live DVD and/or live CD that might also put a bow on the Cardinals era?

NC: I have no information about any of that.

Neal Casal captures Ryan Adams shamelessly showing off his Black Flag tattoo to one of his heroes Henry Rollins (who manages a casual, I'm-not-flexing flex).

TLF: I’ve read (usually direct quotes from Ryan) that there was a chunk of “rock” material recorded before and/or during the Easy Tiger sessions, tentatively titled Cardinals III/IV. What can you tell me about those sessions and the prospects of them seeing the light of day? (Does this crop include stuff like “Arkham Asylum,” “Trouble on Wheels,” “Typecast,” “Breakdown Into the Resolve,” or is it an entirely different crop that wasn’t played live?)

NC: There’s a truckload of great songs from both the Easy Tiger and Cardinology sessions that haven’t seen the light of day yet. We recorded so many songs, 4 or 5 records worth of material. We were pretty unstoppable there for awhile, pretty amazing when i stop and think about it. I have no clue what will happen with them. “Breakdown Into The Resolve,” I think we may have played that one live a few times. Yeah, we played “Arkham Asylum” a lot in 2006 too. I remember that now.

TLF: Wilco, Drive-By Truckers, Avett Brothers, Magnolia Electric Co., Jack White and his various bands, Bright Eyes/Conor Oberst, Ryan Bingham… these are some of the more popular contemporary artists that have a lot of fan-base crossover with the Cardinals. Do you dig on any of their albums, or ever have a chance to check some of them out live?

NC: It’s a great time for music these days. I listen to all of those records and try to keep up with what everyone is doing, there are so many good bands out there. As for songwriters, I think Conor Oberst is a really gifted lyricist, he’s always blowing my mind with some amazing turn of a phrase.

TLF: I know you’re primarily a “Stones guy,” but what are your favorite Beatles and Dylan albums?

NC: Well, I’m a Dylan guy first and foremost, and so is every other rock musician whether they know it or not. He’s the one who wrote the book for all of us, and that’s an inescapable fact.

Blood On The Tracks is the Dylan album that changed my life forever, but lately I’ve been listening to New Morning a lot. I go through different phases with all of his records. I listened to that song “Up To Me” the other day and wondered how a song so great could have ever been left OFF of a record. Dylan is the real king.

As for the Beatles, I heard the last few songs on Abbey Road as I was walking around in an antique shop today, and it really captivated me. Talk about putting a bow on the end of an era, a decade, and a band. What an incredible way to wrap things up. So sad, majestic, melodic, and poignant. A lot of people like to trash the Beatles but they really were such an extraordinary band.

TLF: Finally, what are your plans, musically, for the near future? Will you be getting back to doing solo albums/tours; will you be forming or joining a new band? Will Ryan or any of the other Cardinals figure into those plans?

NC: I figure I’ll always be out there making music in one way or another. Either as a solo flyer, playing guitar for someone else, taking photos, whatever it may be. I’m into it as long as it’s up to standards y’know? Cardinals family always figures into everything I do. Whether they’re actually there or not makes no difference. We all bonded in a way that will never change. We’ll be making music together in some way or another, that’s my prediction.

The Top 10 Hip-Hop Albums of All Time

Posted in music, top 10 lists with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on Tuesday, 2010 by Todd.Levinson.Frank

Narrowing down the Best Hip-Hop Albums of All Time to ten is a challenge. If you search the internet and ask all your friends, you will likely get a lot of similar lists (but there will always be differences and debates). In fact, there could probably be a great top 10 list of incredible rap albums that were left off the list below (hence the 15 honorable mentions). Choosing only ten was difficult enough, so these are not ranked and appear chronologically.

Public Enemy – It Take a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back (1988)
Please disregard any list of the best hip-hop albums of all time if this isn’t on it. Nothing ever sounded like this before, and only a few imitators and some other Public Enemy albums sounded like it after. “Bring the Noise” wasn’t just a song title, it was a mission statement. The music, the lyrics, the message, Chuck D’s clear delivery: this was an album that simply couldn’t be ignored.

De La Soul – 3 Feet High and Rising (1989)
While Buhloone Mindstate or Stakes Is High might be their “better” album, there’s a reason “3 Feet High and Rising was and still is hailed as a classic. They made it cool to be peaceful and artsy. For better or worse, they practically invented the hip-hop skit and certainly broke ground by sampling off the beaten path stuff like Steely Dan and French language instructional tapes.

A Tribe Called Quest – The Low End Theory (1991)
Straight-up beats, rhymes, and life propel this jazzy masterpiece into almost everyone’s Top 10. Often imitated but never matched, this is the kind of album that even impresses people who think they don’t like rap.

Nas – Illmatic (1994)
Perhaps the undisputed classic rap masterpiece. Expert beats and production from DJ Premier perfectly showcase the lyrical fury and on-point delivery of a young Nas on his incredible debut.

Gang Starr – Hard to Earn (1994)
A bit of a hidden gem here, though most hip-hop fans are down with Gang Starr (Guru and DJ Premier). They had several good albums, but this one is a real standout.

KRS-One – KRS-One (1995)
KRS-One probably deserves his own list collecting his Boogie Down Productions albums with his best solo stuff. Most lists usually have BDP’s By Any Means Necessary, and rightfully so. But this one is the true banger.

GZA/Genius – Liquid Swords (1995)
One of the first and best solo albums from the extended Wu-Tang Clan family. While it’s certainly hailed as a classic in the hip-hop community, this is the needle in the haystack that the masses have never heard of.

OutKast – Aquemini (1998)
The pre-cursor to their future classics like Stankonia and Speakerbox/Love Below, this one has all the elements and was so original and so perfectly executed by Andre 3000 and Big Boi. It not only put the South on the hip-hop map, it pushed the envelope of what rap music could be.

The Roots – things fall apart (1999)
It’s so hard to pick just one album from the Roots, and since their live show is so legendary, they aren’t usually found on lists of the best rap albums of all time, but they should be. “Illadelph Halflife,” “Game Theory,” the eclectic “Phrenology,” or raw “Do You Want More” could easily make this list. But “things fall apart” was hip-hop artistry from a band just hitting their stride.

Mos Def – Black on Both Sides (1999)
Mos Def’s collaboration with Talib Kweli (Black Star) could be in this spot, but Black on Both Sides gets the nod. It’s sprawling yet consistent, lyrically driven but very musical and textured. This is another great album that may have slipped through the cracks of the collective (un)consciousness.

Honorable Mentions:

N.W.A. – Straight Outta Compton
Notorious B.I.G. – Ready to Die
Dr. Dre – The Chonic and Chronic 2001
Eminem – The Marshall Mathers LP
Wu-Tang Clan – 36 Chambers
Beastie Boys – Paul’s Boutique
Black Star – Mos Def and Talib Kweli Are Black Star
Boogie Down Productions – Edutainment and By Any Means Necessary
Raekwon – Only Built for Cuban Linx (and pt 2)
Jay Z – The Blueprint
Run DMC – Raising Hell
EPMD – Strictly Business
Redman – Doc’s Da Name

Generation X: the Last Cool Generation

Posted in essays, misc.blurbs, music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on Wednesday, 2010 by Todd.Levinson.Frank

There’s been much ink spilled (back when ink and paper were still widely used) about Generation X (my generation, born in the mid-60s thru early 70’s). And then I think they named the next one Generation Y (or Generation Next or The Millennials), and now they’re up to Generation Z, or the iGen (ugh, talk about forcing it).

But long after Douglas Coupland’s novel of the same name put “Generation X” on the map, I’d just like to say: We are the last cool generation. For many reasons.

We remember life before Xbox and Wii. I played freakin PONG with two "paddles" (lines on the screen) hitting a "ball" (a dot) back and forth. That was it. That was the whole game. Now, just the commercials for video games look better than the movies we grew up on.

Not only did we wait for our favorite song to come on the radio, but we did so with our cassette players setup to record and then tried to release the Pause button right away to tape the song. In fact, I used to blast records through an old stereo, with a boom box sitting in front of the speakers so I could copy it to a tape.

We wrote letters on paper and sent them through the mail to be read three days later. We used phone books. We used payphones. We used maps. We had to research our school papers at the library, with encyclopedias. We had to look shit up in books. The internet didn’t exist or was still in very early infancy when we were in college. We weren’t sitting around in class with our laptops.

We watched three TV channels plus PBS and waited until the 11pm local news sportscaster came on to show us highlights, until, if we were lucky, we had parents who could afford cable if and when it was finally available in our neighborhood. And we were already 12 by then.

So yes, we are the last cool generation. And all the little whippersnappers who followed us think they are the cool ones.

They can kick our ass at Playstation but they never played outside in the yard until it got dark enough that you could only see the ball when it was in the air. They make fun of clunky out-of-date CD players; I actually owned an 8-track tape player. They started drinking coffee when they were 15 and now they think drinking crappy beer like Pabst Blue Ribbon is cooler than being accused of being a “beer snob.” They think everything is overrated, underrated, or just totally random.

And of course they only like bands you’ve never heard of.

I think it’s funny how all these emo hipsters love to love anything that’s underground indie lo-fi crapola and it’s cool to say U2 sucks or Radiohead’s not great anymore or the White Stripes aren’t cool cuz Jack White’s gone Hollywood and sold out cuz he’s done a film soundtrack and been in a movie with The Edge.

Meanwhile, all these crappy bands sound like early U2 (but not as good) or wanna-be Radiohead or minimalist retro White Stripes. Ironic. Oh, wait, but being “ironic” is the coolest thing, right? I don’t know, I’ve lost track.

They cry and cry and cry that "oh you should check out THIS band and too bad THIS band isn’t as famous as Coldplay!" But then soon as 42 other people start agreeing and liking that band, they jump ship cuz "they suck now."

You suck. Go fix your eyeliner.

And now’s the part where I end the rant and you fill up the comments section (or the emails you use to forward this to your hipster buddies) saying how I’m just a bitter old man who doesn’t get it and I’m a hypocrite cuz I wrote a condescending blog post admonishing the cooler-than-thou people who do stupid shit like write condescending blog posts. That’s cool. I know I’m gonna drive home in my Honda from my day job and probably just go to sleep early. And you’re gonna peep your iPhone for some new App that plays old games like PONG or helps you organize all your stuff that makes you uniquely you. Just like everybody else.

The Best Albums of 2009

Posted in music, top 10 lists with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on Wednesday, 2009 by Todd.Levinson.Frank

It’s that time of year when self-absorbed bloggers and music geeks prepare their Top 10 Albums of the Year lists. Of course, the mainstream media trots out Beyonce and U2 while the hipsters try to out-obscure each other by only choosing albums by artists that no one has ever heard of. I guess I’m somewhere in between, so some of you will find my list a bit too mainstream (Pearl Jam, Jay-Z) while others of you will raise an eyebrow at the lesser-known stuff (Polvo? Magnolia who?).

Since I couldn’t narrow it down to just 10 albums, I cheated creatively by breaking it into categories plus two Top 10’s. It doesn’t matter. I think there are more albums on this list than there are readers of this blog.

Best Rock Album
Polvo – In Prism

Best Americana/Alt.Country Album
The Avett Brothers – I and Love and You

Best Hip-Hop Album
Raekwon – Only Built For Cuban Linx 2

Best Jazz Album
Allen Toussaint – The Bright Mississippi

Best Traditional R&B / Rockin Soul Party Album
Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears – Tell ‘Em What Your Name Is!

The Top 10 Albums

Them Crooked Vultures

The Dead Weather – Horehound

Mos Def – The Ecstatic

Ryan Bingham & the Dead Horses – Roadhouse Sun

Sonic Youth – The Eternal

The Black Crowes – Before the Frost/Until the Freeze

Pearl Jam – Backspacer

Regina Spektor – Far

Jay Farrar and Ben Gibbard – One Fast Move Or I’m Gone: Music From Kerouac’s Big Sur

The Decemberists – The Hazards of Love

The Next 10 (this list goes up to 11!)

Patterson Hood – Murdering Oscar

KRS-One and Buckshot – Survival Skills

Magnolia Electric Co. – Joesphine

John Wesley Harding – Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead

Mars Volta – Octahedron

Wilco (the Album)

Eminem – Relapse

Ben Kweller – Changing Horses

Jay Z – Blueprint 3

Levon Helm – Electric Dirt

Conor Oberst & the Mystic Valley Band – Outer South

Best Remaster/Reissue
The Beatles catalog 09.09.09

Best Re-imagined/Re-recorded Album
Stephen Marley – Mind Control (Acoustic)

Best Live Album
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – The Live Anthology

Best Collection of Outtakes/Unreleased Odds’n’ends
Drive-By Truckers – Fine Print

Rick Rubin’s Resume

Posted in music, top 10 lists with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on Friday, 2009 by Todd.Levinson.Frank

Actually, Rick Rubin’s Resume would be a cool name for a band, assuming he didn’t sue you. Anyway, wow. He not only has produced influential debuts from the Beastie Boys to LL Cool J to Run DMC to Public Enemy, but in the process proved that rock and rap could co-exist. He’s pretty much responsible for Johnny Cash’s late-career comeback and produced the flourish of albums at the end of Cash’s life. He produced a mid-career masterpiece for Tom Petty, almost all of the Slayer albums, and I think every Chili Peppers record since and starting with the classic Blood Sugar Sex Magik. He’s done solo/acoustic records for Neil Diamond and Jakob Dylan, alt-rock stuff like Slipknot, and produced the album that contains “Baby Got Back.” Most recently he got the unfocused and feuding Metallica to stop putting out crap and make a classic-sounding Metallica album and then produced a great rootsy folksy ditty for indie favorites the Avett Brothers. That kind of variety is what makes him incredible. He’s done everything at every end of every spectrum and everywhere in between and most of it is great. Sometimes all within the same year.

He started work with U2 on their most recent album but those sessions were shelved and never heard, as the boys when back to Lanois/Eno to do No Line on the Horizon. I heard, or read… or read on the internet that someone heard… anyway, this reliable source said that Rubin is a hardass, and he won’t just take and record the first 10 songs you show up with. He’ll send you back to write more and tell you to do better. Maybe Bono and the Edge didn’t like that and they wanted Yes Men at the controls? Maybe Rubin thought U2’s new stuff sucked and told them to get lost? Who knows. Just adds to the legend.

But the real legend is in his resume. It’s one thing to say “damn, go read this guy’s Wiki page!” It’s another to then realize that there’s a separate Wikipedia page for his Album Production Credits! Check out his bio on allmusic.com and click “credits” and take a look.

My Top 10 Favorite Albums Produced by Rick Rubin:

1986: Raising Hell – Run-DMC

1987: Yo! Bum Rush the Show – Public Enemy

1988: South of Heaven – Slayer

1991: Blood Sugar Sex Magik – Red Hot Chili Peppers

1994: American Recordings – Johnny Cash

1994: Wildflowers – Tom Petty

2000: Renegades – Rage Against the Machine

2003: De-Loused in the Comatorium – The Mars Volta

2008: Death Magnetic – Metallica

2009: I and Love and You – The Avett Brothers

The Top 10 Albums Produced by Rick Rubin that didn’t make the list above:

1985: Radio – LL Cool J

1986: Licensed to Ill – Beastie Boys

1986: Reign in Blood – Slayer

1987: Electric – The Cult

1988: Danzig – Danzig

1998: Chef Aid: The South Park Album – South Park

1999: Californication – Red Hot Chili Peppers

2001: Toxicity – System of a Down

2002: American IV: The Man Comes Around – Johnny Cash

2002: By the Way – Red Hot Chili Peppers

Best Albums of the Decade 2000′s

Posted in music, top 10 lists, Uncategorized with tags , , , on Friday, 2009 by Todd.Levinson.Frank

Originally, I set out to compile my list of the Top 20 Albums of the Decade. The 2000’s. Or the Aughts. Yea, I guess we never got around to naming this decade and now it’s already ending. I thought I was realistic by not even attempting a Top 10 Best Albums of the 2000’s, but it turns out even 20 proved difficult. And once I passed 20, the albums just kept flowing and then I thought “okay, Top 40 would be good, since “Top 40” is sort of a tried and true phrase in popular music. Then I hit 50. OK, I’ll do a Top 50, why not! Then I got to 52 and beyond and finally just gave up and let myself list all the great albums I loved this decade and not worry about cutting any out just to keep the list at 20, 40 or 50. So I ended up with 65. Seems a bit excessive, sure. But it’s still only about 6 or 7 per year. And I easily could have added a few more. Actually, I could just call this a Top 50 Best Albums of the Decade list because they’re not numbered, and if you actually read through it and count the exact number of albums, I’m just glad you’re on my blog.

Please add your Top 5, 10, or 65 favorite albums of the decade (or point out my glaring omissions) in the comments section. Now, on with the list…

Mos Def – Black on Both Sides (1999)
First album on the list and I’m already cheating. This one came out just a couple months before 2000, and is such a great album. One of the best hip-hop albums of all time, even if you don’t see it on such lists in the mainstream media. So why not kick off this list with the last great album of the previous century?

2000

Queens of the Stone Age – Rated R

OutKast – Stankonia

Aimee Mann – Bachelor No. 2, or the last remains of the dodo

Talib Kweli & Hi Tek – Reflection Eternal

Radiohead – Kid A

U2 – All That You Can’t Leave Behind
It’s pretty easy to hate on these grandiose mega-stars, but this was and is a truly great U2 album made several years after most of us figured they’d never do it again.

D’Angelo – Voodoo

Ryan Adams – Heartbreaker

Ghostface Killah – Supreme Clientele

2001

Bob Dylan – Love and Theft

Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
This one would probably make the list even there were only 5 albums on it. Songwriting, atmosphere, and using the studio as an instrument without getting too cute or overdoing it. It’s all here, a classic peak from a great band.

Tool – Lateralus

Jay Z – The Blueprint

Whiskeytown – Pneumonia

2002

Sonic Youth – Murray Street
This is how I love my Sonic Youth. This album and the three that have followed are all really good. I actually like this (and those other recent ones) more than their old classics. Blasphemy for hardcore SY fans and a nation of hipsters, I know.

Elvis Costello – When I Was Cruel

Bright Eyes – Lifted, Or the Story Is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground

The Roots – Phrenology
A bit all over the place stylistically and a bit long, but still mostly brilliant. It’s like their White Album.

2003

Drive-By Truckers – Decoration Day
The underrated gem in their stellar catalogue. I shoulda/coulda put all of their albums from this decade on the list.

Flaming Lips – Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots

Mars Volta – De-Loused in the Comatorium
Crazy intense mindfuck jams mixed with tribal rhythms and pure relentless rock fury.

The White Stripes – Elephant

The Jayhawks – Rainy Day Music

OutKast – Speakerbox/The Love Below
Split into two mostly solo discs, illustrating the two sides of the OutKast coin and allowing BigBoi and Dre to let each of their distinct musical personalities shine while still feeling like a(nother) brilliant OutKast record.

Songs: Ohia – Magnolia Electric Co.

2004

Masta Killa – No Said Date
A lost gem from an underrated member of the Wu-Tang Clan. The Wu family has put out so many albums over the years (and a few duds after the initial string of classic solo joints) that it was easy for this one to get lost in the shuffle. Do yourself a favor and track this one down, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Ryan Adams – Love Is Hell

PJ Harvey – Uh Huh Her

Jello Biafra & the Melvins – Don’t Breathe What You Can’t See
Legends team up for some post-9/11 punk fury and rockin’ jams.

Green Day – American Idiot

Loretta Lynn – Van Lear Rose

Danger Mouse – The Grey Album
A classic mashup of The Beatles White Album and Jay-Z’s Black Album. Somehow it works beyond just the novelty and is a truly great listen.

2005

DJ Muggs/GZA the Genius – Grandmasters

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Howl

Bright Eyes – I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning

Damian “Jr Gong” Marley – Welcome to Jamrock
Title song is one of the hottest tracks of all time. The rest of the album is also very solid.

My Morning Jacket – Z

Ryan Adams & the Cardinals – Cold Roses

Common – Be

The White Stripes – Get Behind Me Satan

2006

Tom Petty – Highway Companion
A vastly underrated album from TP. Is it possible that this is his best album, so late in his career? It’s certainly great enough to be in that discussion. Check out this hidden gem if you missed it or ignored it a few years ago.

The Roots – Game Theory

Sonic Youth – Rather Ripped

Built to Spill – You in Reverse

Bob Dylan – Modern Times

2007

Terence Blanchard – A Tale of God’s Will (A Requiem for Katrina)
Haunting, moving, and uplifting sounds from one of the true jazz greats of this generation.

Band of Horses – Cease to Begin

Stephen Marley – Mind Control

Public Enemy – How You Sell Soul To a Soulless People Who Lost Their Soul?
Another one that slipped under the radar. It’s really hard to make a great hip-hop album these days (or maybe it’s just too easy to make bad ones that still sell a lot), and I think it’s really hard for a legendary group to do it almost 20 years after they made a couple of the best hip-hop albums of all time. Sure they’ve had a few duds in between, but this one hits the mark.

Robert Plant/Alison Krauss – Raising Sand

Spoon – Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga

Radiohead – In Rainbows

2008

Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks – Real Emotional Trash

The Raconteurs – Consolers of the Lonely

Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend

Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!

Beck – Modern Guilt

Willie Nelson & Wynton Marsalis – Two Men with the Blues
Odd pairing, but terrific results. Really fun album… while the two main men don’t disappoint, Wynton’s solid backing band keeps it moving.

One Day as a Lion – One Day as a Lion

2009

John Wesley Harding – Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead

Polvo – In Prism

The Avett Brothers – I and Love and You

Black Crowes – Before the Frost/Until the Freeze

Ryan Bingham – Roadhouse Sun

Raekwon – Only Built For Cuban Linx 2

Jack White This Decade

Posted in music, top 10 lists, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on Tuesday, 2009 by Todd.Levinson.Frank

I’m working on my "Best Albums of the 2000′s" to be posted soon. A Top 10 seemed too limiting, so I was gonna do 20. Looks like it’s gonna end up being a Top 50. It’s tough being a music nerd. In the meantime, here’s what Jack White has done this decade. What’s up with 2002? What a slacker!!

2000: The White Stripes, De Stijl
2001: The White Stripes, White Blood Cells; White founds Third Man Records
2003: The White Stripes, Elephant; White contributes to Cold Mountain soundtrack and appears in the film
2004: White produces and performs on Loretta Lynn’s Van Lear Rose
2005: The White Stripes, Get Behind Me Satan
2006: The Raconteurs, Broken Boy Soldiers
2007: The White Stripes, Icky Thump
2008: The Raconteurs, Consolers of the Lonely; White records “Another Way to Die” with Alicia Keys for Bond flick Quantum of Solace
2009: The Dead Weather, Horehound; White Stripes tour film Under the Great White Northern Lights premieres at Toronto Film Festival; White stars in guitar love-note doc It Might Get Loud with Jimmy Page and U2’s The Edge

Pearl Jam – Backspacer

Posted in music with tags , on Monday, 2009 by Todd.Levinson.Frank

This week, Pearl Jam’s new album Backspacer finally shows up in stores. Listening to it now and it’s a fine little rock record for sure. There’s a certain clarity to the mix as well as energy and diversity in the songs. The guitar work is crisp and tasteful throughout. I haven’t listened to it enough for it to really sink in yet, but I’m diggin it.

Also, much has been made about Pearl Jam releasing Backspacer independently, with out a record label. And of course a lot more has been made about the fact that they cut an "exclusive" deal with Target to promote/sell this album. But, to clarify: yes, Target will be the only "big box" retailer to carry it, so you wont find it at BestBuy, Walmart, or the big chain mall record stores. But in true Pearl Jam fashion, they insisted on an interesting clause in the deal that allows the album to also be sold at independent record stores. I love that move, and hopefully those of you planning to buy this will hit up your local record shop while it still exists.I think some indie stores might even have a special edition with different packaging. Two sites to help you find your closest indie store are: http://www.the-ird.com/store.html and http://www.cimsmusic.com/. So check the record store before Target.

Finally, here’s a little behind-the-scenes look at Pearl Jam making Backspacer. This short film was done by Danny Clinch. He’s a great photographer, and his artistic eye certainly lends a nice beauty to this little film. His shots just look great, and his edits can sometimes be choppy to coincide with the music, but never too fast or annoying. Interesting stuff, especially the part where Eddie Vedder says he approached his role on this album as "Participating as instrument, rather than as a storyteller. Writing’s great, but there’s too many words."

Read Me Elsewhere On The Innerwebs

Posted in misc.blurbs, music, sports, Uncategorized on Sunday, 2009 by Todd.Levinson.Frank

Sorry I haven’t been updating this blog much lately. Not sure who I’m apologizing to, or why. Anyway, I’m doing album reviews now for Music Emissions, which is a pretty cool site you should check out. That link takes you to my profile where you can see all my reviews.

I’m also writing occasional football columns for RealFootball365.

So check me out and pass my links along to all your e-friends and post links on Facebook and where ever else you share/recommend relatively pointless digital entertainment.

Can The Drummer Get Some

Posted in music on Sunday, 2009 by Todd.Levinson.Frank

Well,  YOU can get some.

Here’s some free music for you. A recording i did with Steve Rubin (who many of you know i worked with in The Circle Six and Eight Track Mind). i play drums/percussion on tracks 1,2,4, and 6, but this is essentially “his” album. hope you dig:

Jackie and the Treehorns: The Future of Adult Entertainment

note: the drumbeat for track 2 is something i constructed playing 2 different takes on a keyboard. so it sounds programmed/electronic, but i actually played it thru on a Triton keyboard twice and we mixed them together to build this beat.

track 4 was written/recorded live on the spot as we jammed in the studio. a riff, a beat… soon it was done. i over dubbed a hand-drum part on this little drum i bought in greece.

track 6 is the oldest recording…. something we wrote/recorded a couple years ago for Josh Bolton’s surfing DVD soundtrack Drawing Lines. it didn’t make that soundtrack but we always loved it cuz it was different than anything we’d ever done together and then it happen to fit in with this set of songs.

09/09/09: Beatles Remasters Arrive

Posted in music with tags , , , on Tuesday, 2009 by Todd.Levinson.Frank

Well, I cant add much that hasn’t already been said about The Beatles. But here’s a few links to some articles about the release of all their albums remastered.

Beatles Remasters, Game Drag Band Into Digital Age
By Mike Collett-White and Douglas MacLaurin

A Splendid Time is Guaranteed For All by Stephen Thomas Erlewine on allmusic.com

Here, There, and Everywhere but iTunes, by Ed Christman

Paul Sexton on Repaving Abbey Road

Refusing to Let It Be: The Beatles in Stereo by Matt Hurwitz in the Washington Post

And here is a cool animation video that is at the beginning of the new Beatles Rockband video game.

Perhaps the most damning thing I’ve read in all the coverage of the Beatles stuff this week is the fact that in the SoundScan era (since May 1991) the Beatles have sold nearly 58 million albums/units. But they are SECOND. Who’s first? Garth Freakin Brooks with 69.3 million. Really? That’s reason enough for all of us to head out on 09/09/09 and buy two copies of all these new remasters. For the record, my wishlist priority is: Revolver, White Album, Rubber Soul, Abbey Road, and Sgt.Pepper. Thanks.

Them Crooked Vultures

Posted in music, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on Tuesday, 2009 by Todd.Levinson.Frank

Wow.

As you likely have heard by now, there is an actually super supergroup on the horizon.

Dave Grohl (Nirvana, Foo Fighters) on drums, Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age) on guitar, and the legendary John Paul Jones (from a little band you might know by the name of Led Zeppelin) on bass. Yea, I really cant envision a scenario where this album could possibly suck.

More from Antiquiet and Pitchfork can be found here.

Homme’s wife, Brody Dalle of Spinnerette, is already sorta not really on record with her opinion: “I’m not at liberty to talk about it… but I think [the project] is pretty fucking amazing. Just beats and sounds like you’ve never heard before.”

Associated Content Publishing Me

Posted in misc.blurbs, music, top 10 lists with tags , , , , , on Friday, 2009 by Todd.Levinson.Frank

Just wanted to give you a heads up that Associated Content has published my “T0p 10 Country Albums” originally posted here on the blog. I could eventually get paid for page views, so please click on over and check it out and pass the link on to others.

Top 10 Best Country Albums Ever

Thanks!

The Death of Michael Jackson

Posted in essays, music on Friday, 2009 by Todd.Levinson.Frank

So there was Johnny Carson doing his nightly show up in heaven. He was particularly giddy to have been recently reunited with longtime sidekick Ed McMahon. Then they were joined by the incomparable Farrah Fawcett. She was the hottest woman on the planet back when that title was only held by one person. Back before the internet and Maxim magazine plastered half-naked chicks all over the walls of society to the point that we stopped noticing. No, back then, it was just Farrah and that over-the-top white-tooth smile shining down from the infamous poster of her in that now-modest one-piece bathing suit.

Johnny was cracking jokes about yet another disgraced and disgraceful politician who’d cheated on his wife. This time another Republican who’d previously railed against gay marriage and how it would allegedly “destroy the sanctity of marriage.” Ha. Well that South Carolina Governor was soon the happiest man in the world: he was quickly pushed off the front pages. They say things come in 3’s, and sure enough right after Farrah and Ed had joined Johnny…the surprise musical guest showed up: Michael Jackson was dead at the age of 50.

I’ll never forget watching that Motown 25th Anniversary TV show when MJ and the Jacksons rocked the house and Michael in particular was off the hook, performing “Billie Jean” with that moonwalk and the other dance sequences. It was amazing.

Watching it now, he’s obviously lip synching. I can’t remember if I knew that then or even cared. His stage presence, the buzz from the crowd, the fact that he was basically just dancing and pretending to sing along with a pre-recorded track, and yet he connected with both the live audience and the TV viewers. That just doesn’t seem to happen like that anymore. People are spoiled. They DVR it or wait to catch it on youtube or they read on the internet ahead of time what songs will be performed. But that night we were all glued to the TV “live,” and the actual live audience was on their feet, clapping along, screaming at the very beginning like “holy shit we’re about to watch a dude who does what he does better than anyone does anything!” like Michael Jordan was about to hit the game winning shot or Joe Montana was gonna drive the 49ers down the field to win the Super Bowl.

And then, toward the end, he goes into some dance moves and all of a sudden he’s just inexplicably gliding backwards in that moonwalk. At the time it was like “WHAT? I didn’t know humans could do that!” It was like someone had just levitated on the street before our eyes. He even hit the moonwalk again a minute later. As if to confirm, yea, you saw that right…. I’m magically gliding backwards. And then eventually the track starts fading and he’s still sorta lip-synching along. Like they didn’t even need to try to pretend that it wasn’t a lip synch. Why bother. It didn’t matter. He’d nailed it.

I was never a big MJ fan per se…. certainly appreciated the hits from Off The Wall and Thriller (and of course the timeless Jackson 5 hits) as an impressionable young music fan at the time. So I’m not terribly sad or shocked today. I’ve made plenty of Jacko jokes in the past and perhaps will again in the future… but this isn’t really the time for that. It’s nice to reflect a bit on the talent that made him such a big deal before all the weirdness happened and the Thriller went from Bad to worse…

I recently saw the bust of O.J. Simpson at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was an amazing football player, but then he became O.J. from the movies and Hertz commercials, then the O.J. we all know and loathe now. Like different people. Similar type thing with Michael Jackson.

The Michael Jackson that everyone is remembering and celebrating today has actually already been gone for a long time.

Wow, Has It Been That Long?

Posted in misc.blurbs, music, top 10 lists on Monday, 2009 by Todd.Levinson.Frank

My little unplanned break from active blogging has suddenly turned into close to two months of no posts at all. I’d apologize, but I doubt anyone’s really checking this site daily or weekly looking for stuff to read.

And really, if I don’t have much worthwhile to write about or share with you (assuming “you” even exist), then why fill the space with posts regurgitating the news of the day followed by my snarky comments and criticisms?

So I just wanted to drop a quick note as a place holder to show I’m still here and the blog is still going. Not sure where or when…. but it’s going.

With that, I’ll leave you with a Top Ten list of stuff I’ve really enjoyed listening to recently:

1. John Wesley Harding – Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead
2. Prince – Lotusflow3r and MPLSound
3. Silversun Pickups – Swoon
4. Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band – Outer South
5. Bob Dylan – Together Through Life
6. Otis Taylor – Recapturing the Banjo
7. Allen Toussaint – The Bright Mississippi
8. Jerry Garcia Band – Kean College 1980
9. Tom Petty – Highway Companion
10. My 17-month-old son talking more and more every day

Radio Killed Led Zeppelin: The Top 10 Songs That Remain the Same

Posted in music on Thursday, 2009 by Todd.Levinson.Frank

Today we mourn the death of a great band, Led Zeppelin, at the hands of big bad Classic Rock Radio. Sure, you could look at a couple tracks on the following list like “eh, that’s not overplayed; I wish my station would play that one.” And that illustrates the point. The fact that we can all think of more than 10 Led Zeppelin songs that are so overplayed says something about classic rock radio.

  1. Stairway To Heaven
  2. Black Dog
  3. Communication Breakdown
  4. Whole Lotta Love
  5. Immigrant Song
  6. Rock’n’Roll
  7. Fool in the Rain
  8. D’yer Mak’er
  9. All My Love
  10. Dancing Days and Heartbreaker (tie)

  11. Kashmir*

I remember when my brother got In Through The Outdoor on vinyl as a Bar Mitzvah gift. I spent a lot time obsessing on how the front and back covers were related.

I also remember hearing “Kashmir” on classic rock radio a lot when I was little. My dad and brother were musicians (I was just a drummer) and we used to listen and count and try to figure out the deal…. we thought the song was in 7/8 timing, but there was always something weird about it that messed with us. Turns out the guitars were essentially playing a riff in 3/4 while the drums were still in 4/4. Or not. Who knows….

Led Zeppelin had it all. The mystique… the albums named simply with numbers. Till the 4th one, which was so legendary and bad ass that it didn’t have a title. Or it was self-titled. It had nicknames. Like Led Zeppelin IV and Zoso. And of course the song “Stairway to Heaven” was on that album. It was never actually officially released as a single and it is among the most played songs in radio history.

Then they started naming their albums and the titles were as killer as the tunes. Houses of the Holy. Physical Graffiti (which contained the song “Houses of the Holy”). Presence, which by the way is a great and vastly underrated album.

Now, thanks to Classic Rock Radio, they’ve been reduced to a cliché of riffs. How embarrassingly sad it is to see a grown man at a bar turn to his drinking buddy and scream out “Hey hey mamma say the way you move” and “been along time since-a rock’nROLL!” Radio made Led Zeppelin annoying by ramming it down our throats in succession with Boston, Elton John, The Eagles, Billy Joel, Heart, Bob Seger, Steve Miller, and Phil Collins everyday until we took Led Zeppelin’s awesomeness for granted.

So now we don’t think much about Led Zeppelin. We casually toss them aside because we’re “bored” with them. Or because we can only take Robert Plant’s voice in small doses. Or we just dismiss them as blues-ripoff artists… Thanks a lot, Classic Rock Radio. You ruined one of the best fucking bands in the world and you continue to stab its corpse everyday, once an hour, and every night when you “Get the Led Out.”

*Ah… but what about “Kashmir”?? The legendary “KASHMIR,” it should be in caps… with it’s promise of “all will be revealed.” Its otherworldly sound. We do owe radio one small thanks: they actually played “Kashmir” for us. It’s the kind of long weird cool song that they usually would fail to play. Sure they overplayed it, but we didn’t mind. It’s the one song on the list that is resistant to being played to death. Of course, some people think “Kashmir” is overrated. Maybe it is. Technically, The Beatles are “overrated” but that doesn’t mean they aren’t any good. But “Kashmir” reminds us that the Mighty Mysterious Led Zeppelin is still great, mighty, and mysterious. “Kashmir” lets us know that there’s more out there beyond “Black Dog” and “Stairway.”

The songs don’t have to remain the same.

With that in mind…. Here’s a bonus:

Top 10 Awesome Zeppelin Things That Cant Be Killed

1. The BBC Sesssions (2-disc live set)
2. How the West Was Won (3-disc live set)
3. 1973 5-18 Dallas, Texas (soundboard recording)
4. 1975 2-12 Madison Square Garden, NY (matrix of soundboard and audience recording)
5. 1977 4-27 Cleveland, OH (soundboard recording)
6. 1977-6-19 San Diego, CA (soundboard recording)
7. JOHN BONHAM (as should be apparent by all the live recordings listed above, the true awesome power of Led Zeppelin is best felt/heard on the live shows, not single songs on the radio. And the genius and raw talent of John Bonham is big reason why. Y’know, we learned that he drank himself to death so you expect him to be sloppy or something but he is an amazing monster and I mean that in the best possible way. So, no, John Bonham can’t be killed.)
8. Physical Graffiti
9. Presence
10. The Possibility of a Led Zeppelin reunion tour with Jason Bonham on drums

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